Understanding the Customs Clearance Process and Making It Simpler for Your Business

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The Customs Clearance Process

There are millions of packages being transported across the globe each and every day. Whether a package is an import or export, travels by ocean or air, being shipped by individuals or large companies, all international shipments have one thing in common: customs. All countries will have a customs clearance process that accounts for all goods entering or leaving that nation.

Customs agencies and authorities will have different requirements and expectations for their customs clearance procedures. South Africa has a rigorous and intensive customs clearance process called the Import and Export Control Regime that is overseen by the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC). This includes a series of international agreements, domestic laws and regulations, tariffs and clearance standards that every shipment must meet.

Once documents have been filed, tariffs have been paid and declarations have been made, those goods have completed their customs clearance process. Customs clearance is an integral and inevitable feature of the global supply chain that every buyer, seller, importer and exporter on Earth needs to understand. In fact, customs clearing is its own industry, with a variety of logistics and freight forwarding partners supporting businesses around the world.

These customs clearance agents or customs brokers are a critical component for all South African businesses who are sending or receiving international shipments. Customs brokers and logistics partners are experts in their local country’s customs processes, as well as the rules and regulations for common destinations. These, usually, include verifying the paperwork, shipment checks by customs officers and the paying of taxes, duties and tariffs before a shipment is released.

Simplifying the customs clearance process can help businesses save a lot of time, money and effort that would be better utilised elsewhere. A customs broker is there to help businesses, organisations and individuals get their shipments through the customs clearing process and to their destinations as quickly, reliably and easily as possible. Simply put, customs brokers simplify and streamline sending and receiving international shipments for South African businesses.

Customs Brokers

Customs brokers, or customs clearance agents, act as an intermediary for importers and exporters to assist in the customs clearing process. These agents will ensure that all the necessary steps to lawfully and successfully complete the customs clearance requirements of any given international shipment. Customs brokers are a third-party agent that has been permitted to manage the customs clearing process on behalf of a business client or partner.

A customs broker will coordinate each step of the customs entry, tax and duty payments, filing of documentation, import and export clearance, declarations and release of shipments. They are defined as a private individual, partnership or corporation that are there to assist importers and exporters meet the customs clearance requirements of their home country’s customs agencies or the customs protocols of the destination country.

In order to satisfy all the procedural expectations of trade, customs clearance and tax authorities, most buyers and sellers of international goods, based in South Africa, will use a customs broker. Customs brokers have the insight, knowledge and experience gained over many years navigating customs clearing procedures of organisations, such as South Africa’s ITAC or the United States’ Customs and Border Protection (CPB).

The Benefits of Hiring a Customs Broker

There are a number of advantages to hiring a customs broker that can make a process like customs clearance far less time-consuming, stressful and tedious. In fact, a good customs clearance partner will ensure that every regulatory procedure is followed perfectly and all documents are submitted on time and in full. They streamline the entire process to get your shipments cleared and to your door that much sooner.

Beyond ensuring that all customs rules and regulations are followed, customs clearance partners are able to identify any mistakes you have made or if there are better ways to have your shipments cleared. Their intricate knowledge of these complex procedural necessities means that they have unique approaches to the customs clearing process that could benefit any buyer or seller. This allows importers to save on costs and importers to keep more of their profits.

It is important that your customs brokers are a trustworthy and reliable partner. The industry is built on many distinct types of logistical, freight forwarding and customs clearing support. If your customs clearance partner is unable to handle the goods you intend to transport, they will be clear about these limitations. A customs broker that can handle your shipments should have seen, filled and submitted your type of paperwork many times before.

Some Tips for Successfully Navigating the Customs Clearance Process

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  • Make sure all of your paperwork has been completed in full and all information is accurate.
  • Ensure that your package is appropriately and safely packed.
  • All packages must be correctly labelled and have all necessary documentation attached.
  • Understand that each country you enter or leave will have different customs laws and clearance procedures.
  • Be aware that international trade laws and customs regulations are frequently changing.
  • Hire an experienced freight forwarder, logistics partner or customs broker that knows exactly how to navigate your shipments’ customs clearance process.

Keep in Mind

Getting a shipment through customs may seem simple, but importing and exporting goods can become very stressful and overwhelming when the correct procedures are not followed. It is important for you and your company that the customs clearing process does not become a hindrance to your success. Hiring a customs clearance expert could be transformative to the way you run your business.

M6T have become an industry-leading freight forwarding, logistics and customs clearance partner for many South African businesses. M6T have a wealth of industry experience and an established global network that makes importing and exporting goods simpler. M6T’s customs clearing services are designed to ensure all regulatory and legal requirements are met and with South African businesses in mind.

Contact M6T at our Johannesburg or Durban branch today for all of your transportation, customs clearance and logistics needs.